D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the District’s state of emergency to deal with the coronavirus pandemic through the end of the year. That means landlords are not allowed to evict tenants who can’t pay the rent.
However, after months of rent strikes, tenants and advocates alike are demanding more help from Bowser’s administration. Once the state of emergency lifts, activists say paying the mounting back rent after the pandemic will crush people who are already cash-strapped due to pandemic-related job losses and financial hits.
So a large group of residents, between 100-200 people, marched in the street from the Fort Stevens Recreation Center in Northwest D.C., and up the northbound side of 16th Street to the Mayor’s house to ask for help.
Several marchers wore rat costumes because of the Halloween holiday while also representing the deplorable living conditions, including hosting real-life animals, some tenants have to deal with in their homes.
“We have to live in bad conditions. Mold — mold in our bathrooms, mold on the walls, doors and windows not working,” Cecelia Ginyard told WTOP. “We got feces coming up out the ground in our laundry room.”
Ginyard said her husband lost his job, which is another reason she joined the march demanding help from the mayor.
“Cancel rent for this year,” she said while also asking how tenants who have lost jobs could be expected to keep up with monthly rent and pay back rent.
Ale Moz said she is also demanding rent cancellation.
“As an immigrant, we don’t have the privilege to apply for unemployment, for example,” Moz said. “We have years living in those buildings, paying rent every month. And now this crisis came to our country, to the U.S. We are demanding to the landlords to help us.”